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Knotty Thoughts

Currently reading

Russka: The Novel of Russia
Edward Rutherfurd
Progress: 140/945 pages
Caliban's War
James S.A. Corey
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Book 5
J.K. Rowling, Jim Dale

Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 945 pages.

Russka: The Novel of Russia - Edward Rutherfurd

My collection of physical books is so large (upwards of 3000) that it's rare for me to get anything new in anything other than Kindle format. These days, I reserve the purchase of paper books to those that are truly special. And a bit over 100 pages into this book, I knew it would be one of those. Thus, the change in progress update format from percentage to page numbers. Onwards!

Reading progress update: I've read 13%.

Russka: The Novel of Russia - Edward Rutherfurd

Almost done with the second section (Ivanushka's story). I've loved this part; it felt very "Dostoyevskian."

Russka: The Novel of Russia - Edward Rutherfurd

I probably won't be able to finish this before the end of the month (I started this book club pick just a few days ago, and I'm a slow reader), but I'll definitely finish it. I'm on the second chapter/story, and so far have really been enjoying the combination of fiction and geography/history lessons. Both aspects of this book flow smoothly, so it never feels pedantic.

Canada Reads 2018 Longlist

The longlist is out, but I'll wait until the end of the month to dig into the shortlist. As much as I'd love to have time to go through 15 books, I'm going to take the realistic approach this year and tackle the five finalists.

Caliban's War - James S.A. Corey
"She’d stopped looking tired a while ago and had moved on to whatever tired turns into when it became a lifestyle."
Amazing Grace - Lesley Crewe

My favorite aspect of this book is that it didn't head in the direction I expected it to. It begins with a couple of fairly common tropes (healing mother-child relationships; the younger generations coming to understand their elders), and almost immediately upended them. The result is a novel that is by turns funny and heartbreaking. Grace is such a strong character: she has huge flaws, but also an incredible amount of strength and perseverance. I went into this reading not knowing anything about the book or author (it was a group read), and it ended up being an incredible journey.

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) - James S.A. Corey

It took a while to get into it, but I'm hooked on the series now! (Currently on the second book).


I found the prologue absolutely electrifying, and couldn't wait to unravel the mystery, but the book made me work for it! The first third of the novel has parts that just don't seem to take us anywhere (though they ultimately do; I learned a lot of patience!). Once the threads converged and everyone was moving towards the same goal, though, I couldn't put it down. I also love how open the end was. There was a world of possibilities for some of the main characters, and I'm curious to see when they'll pop up again.

Amazing Grace - Lesley Crewe

I'm reading this book as part of the Together We Read event hosted by Overdrive for Libraries. So it's an e-book loan from my local library.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J.K. Rowling, Jim  Dale

Jim Dale is really a phenomenal narrator. In addition to having a gazillion voices to remember how to portray, he makes each of them memorable and constantly evolving along with the character's story arc. The Harry we see (and listen to) here - aged 14, with the beginnings of adolescent fears and insecurities - is not the naive 11-year-old of the first book. The narration makes that clear: Harry sounds older, more jaded and - by the end of the novel - frustrated with how people perceive him. Voldemort, too, experiences a shift in tone, gaining in substance as his own body becomes stronger and more independent.


As with the previous novels, I'm catching details that I now know will become important later on in the series. This is, along with the sheer pleasure of it, a great motivator for revisiting the series. It probably won't be the last re-read/re-listen either. On to the next book!

World Without End

World Without End - Ken Follett The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

I haven't read the first book in this series, but the blurb claims that World Without End can be read on its own, so I'll give it a go for this month's club reading. Maybe I'll like it enough to read The Pillars of the Earth afterwards? I hope so, since I've heard great things about that book.



The Queen's Man - Sharon Kay Penman

Well, that took me long enough to read! I kept getting distracted from the book to read other things, in part because for me the story just wasn't holding together well. I understand that the book was showing just how random an investigation can be, with many loose ends and unanswered questions. But when I reached the point where we find out that Gervase's death wasn't tied at all to the Richard plot, and that therefore it was all an undortunate coincidence, I was disappointed. And then the very last pages are filled with a series of revelations that come fast and furious, after chapter upon chapter where these plot points had lain dormant. I don't expect every thread to be connected, but the story here was just too dispersed to hold my interest.


Also, as I mentioned in an earlier post, although the setting is historically accurate, for some reason I wasn't feeling as inmersed in the time period as I have in other novels set around this time.


In all, it was an interesting reading experience, but I'm not sure I'll read any of the sequels.

How to Train Your Dragon - Cressida Cowell

I've just started reading this one with my five-year-old at bedtime. He's watched the film and series, so I thought he might like the stories, since he's outgrown many of our usual bedtime books. So far, so good. We're reading one chapter a night, and he's doing a great job remembering what happened the previous chapter every time we start up again.

Reading progress update: I've read 60%.

The Queen's Man - Sharon Kay Penman

Still plodding along on this one. It's definitely interesting, and I want to see how it's resolved, but I find myself drifting away from it towards other readings. One thing I've noticed is that I'm having a hard time staying within the time period it's set in; and that's saying something, considering I used to teach Medieval lit. Somehow, I keep forgetting it's set in the 12th century; the author does describe settings well, talks a bit about the etymology of French vs Saxon names, etc.... Still, there's a very modern feel to the book that keeps wanting to trick my mind into a later time period.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Book 3 - J.K. Rowling, Jim  Dale

I started this one last night, right after finishing Chamber of Secrets. As usual, Jim Dale nails the narration. His portrayal of Aunt Marge (especially a very drunk Aunt Marge) had me almost crying with laughter.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Book 2 - J.K. Rowling, Jim  Dale

I'm now officially in love with Jim Dale's narration of these books. His take on Gilderoy Lockhart was amazing: he makes Lockhart both funny and infuriating.


This is my second time going through the series. I read the books as they came out from the very first one to the last, and now I realize how much I'd forget during the downtime from one to the next. And, of course, I'm catching all the little clues that were leading up to the finale from the very beginning.

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

The Queen's Man - Sharon Kay Penman

I really thought I'd be going faster with this one, but I got sidetracked by a couple of other reads. Still enjoying it, though!